Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Thrill Kill: The Murder of Kimberly Cates

A Nice, Quiet Place for a Slaughter

A little more than 2,000 people called the sleepy suburban community of Mont Vernon home. The town, nestled in the south-central part of the state, was an archetypal trusting American community; many people had known each other, and even strangers were united by a mellow trust. Doors were rarely locked, and for years crime only appeared on the evening news, reported from the larger towns of New England. As with most American suburban communities, the feeling of trust ran throughout the thicket of overlapping communities — Amherst, Bedford, Milford, Wilton — near Mont Vernon. The revelation of such random, unprovoked brutality staggered all of south central New Hampshire. When the identities of the victims were released, the astonishment, outrage, and fear became amplified.

Map of area around Mont Vernon with Mont Vernon locator
Map of area around Mont Vernon with Mont Vernon locator

Kimberly Cates was a well-loved 42-year-old nurse employed by several New England hospitals. A native of Ohio, she and her family had moved to Mont Vernon in 2004 in part because of the safety and community the area offered. Her daughter, Jaimie Cates was a bright, curious sixth grader at Mont Vernon Village School. Jaimie holds a black belt in karate. According to reports, Jaimie tried to defend her mother during the attack before being so seriously injured that she played dead. Friends and family say that mother and daughter were extremely close — they spent a large part of their free time together and attended many of the same classes as a mother-daughter team. David Cates, by all reports a devoted husband and loving father, was away on business on the night of the attack, a random detail that it seems the assailants did not know.

Outside view of Cates home
Outside view of Cates home
 The Cates lived on Trow Road, a dirt road that runs through a wooded, isolated section of Hillsborough County. Trow Road's isolation proved alluring to the home intruders. In the weeks before they assaulted Kim and Jaimie Cates, the assailants had selected Trow Road as the site of their home invasion.

 At first it seemed as if the attackers had chosen well and that they had made few mistakes. According to the first story by the New Hampshire Union Leader, reported in the hours after the attack, investigators were left with little evidence: there was a tire track left in the dirt of Trow Road and, according to Jaimie, they were looking for a "white man." Investigators hoped that these small slivers of evidence could be the foundation upon which they could start to build an investigation.

Investigators would not be in the dark for long. The killers would all but deliver themselves to authorities.

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